Women’s basketball team is still in the postseason mix


Redshirt sophomore forward Nike McClure and sophomore center Maria Kostourkova attempt a block.

JACOB MOORE | Evergreen columnist

The Pac-12 has been nothing short of a mob this year, proving again to be one of the most competitive of all 32 collegiate conferences in women’s basketball.

WSU is nonetheless smack-dab in the middle of that mob as they continue their fight to bring the postseason back to the Palouse.

Will it be difficult? Absolutely. But what hasn’t been this season? Injuries have come in herds, jinxing what looked like an optimistic year at one point. Even long-time Head Coach June Daugherty was surprised by the string of bad luck.

“I’ve never seen anything like this – to lose three starters in one season,” she said.

An injury here or there is typically difficult for any team to handle. However, the decreased team morale doesn’t tend to become detrimental until the disabled list grows to about four or five.

That’s not the case for the Cougars, though.

If anything, the magnitude of injuries has strengthened the core of this team. As a volunteer manager, I have the privilege to witness firsthand what determination actually means.

Determination is a feeling of purpose, and it burns like a fire in the eyes of these athletes. It’s proving the naysayers wrong when the odds are stacked against you.

And if you think that injuries are going to dampen this team’s swagger, then I can attest that you are dead wrong.

WSU has been playing with their backs against the wall all season long, and yet there’s still talk about potential postseason games. If that’s not determination, then I honestly don’t know what is.

Every athlete and coach for this team is on the same page. You can’t say that of every team in the country.

What’s even more impressive to consider is the language barriers and diversity of this specific group.

The majority of the team is made of up foreign athletes. Players on the team have travelled from Australia, France, Macedonia, Portugal, Greece, Siberia and Bulgaria to represent WSU on the court. So naturally, there’s going to be communication difficulties.

To be fair, nobody expected it to be easy. Most of these athletes played a different game of basketball before coming to the Pacific Northwest. Trying to learn the Cougar way of playing while also having a unique language or accent is not as simple as riding a bike.

“There have been times when, if I’m running down the court yelling something to a European, they have no idea what I just said,” junior forward Louise Brown said.

With perseverance, good mentality and uniquely impressive physical skillsets, the athletes on this team have banded together like the pieces that make up a puzzle.

Teams should anticipate hardships throughout the season, that’s part of the journey. WSU has been able to put the pieces they have together to keep postseason hopes alive. They haven’t given up when the “going gets tough.”

Everyone assumes responsibility. Everyone is called on to get their job done, and that’s what makes this run for the postseason so exciting.

One player could have a huge game against USC tonight, and another player could be the star in the UCLA game on Sunday. Someone always steps up, but it is not always the same player.

Skeptics argue that having too many injuries will be the downfall of this season. Surely, the standings are not pretty – WSU has the worst overall record in the conference at 10-15.

But that doesn’t mean it’s over.

To qualify for a spot in the Pac-12 Tournament at the end of the year, WSU must be at least the eighth best team in the league. The Cougars sit at number eight with four games remaining.

While the overall record doesn’t show it, the Cougars have won some important games this season. The team even came close to upsetting ranked teams like Maryland, Kentucky and Arizona State.

To make any postseason magic happen, WSU will need to win out – including winning the Pac-12 Tournament. With that in mind, the women’s basketball team essentially controls its own destiny.

It can be done. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it will absolutely happen. But, what I’m trying to say is you shouldn’t count this team out yet.